With all the young talent in today’s NBA, it’s difficult to tell which players have the most potential to be superstars one day. Here are my top 25 players, under 25 years of age (not including the rookies from the 2018 NBA Draft):
25. Julius Randle
Randle has showed he can compete at the power forward position in LA, as he’ll now have a fresh start in New Orleans.
24. Marcus Smart
Smart has shown great emotion and effort throughout his first few years in the league, and with development in his offensive game, he’ll be the full package.
23. Gary Harris
Harris has played well in Denver, but he needs to become more of a leader on the young Nuggets team in order to become a real competitor.
22. Andrew Wiggins
After winning rookie of the year in 2015, Wiggins continued to use his natural athleticism to be a dominant scorer for the T-Wolves, however, he’s a liability on defense, which is unacceptable considering his quickness and length.
21. Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma made a name for himself in his rookie year last season by scoring the ball relentlessly, but his continuation of that will be put into question since he’ll have to give up some of his scoring time for Brandon Ingram and LeBron James.
20. D’Angelo Russell
After being selected number two overall by the Lakers in the 2015 NBA draft, Russell put together a decent rookie campaign. But his tenure in LA ended early as he was replaced by Lonzo Ball. Russell’s future depends on how well or poorly he’ll lead Brooklyn.
19. Lauri Markkanen
The Finnish prospect stood out on a struggling Bulls team last season. He’s a seven footer that is quick and can shoot threes, and he’ll fit in perfectly with the other great big men in the league.
18. Myles Turner
Turner has built muscle since his rookie season, which will allow him to be more dominant in the paint. This adds to his already solid skillset of shooting and defense.
17. Clint Capela
Capela was a pivotal piece of the Rockets last season, as he contributes with his constant rebounding and stellar defense. If he can develop a mid-range jump-shot, then he’ll be the full package.
16. Zach Lavine
Clearly, Lavine is one of the most athletic players in the NBA (evident from his jaw-dropping dunk contest in 2016). He’s recovered from his torn ACL, and is prepared to be a pivotal part of a young Bulls team.
15. Terry Rozier
‘Scary Terry’ made a name for himself after filling in for an injured Kyrie Irving for the Celts. Rozier showed that he could not only hold his own, but dominate opponents and lead a team as a starter. He outplayed Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe in the 2018 playoffs this past season, as the young phenom is showing no signs of slowing down.
14. Jamal Murray
Murray has made good contributions in Denver, but he’s going to have to make more of an impact if he wants to lead the Nuggets to playoffs next season. The young sharpshooter will be tested on his willingness to lead this newly-rebuilt team.
13. Aaron Gordon
At 6’9,” Gordon has the build and athleticism of prime Blake Griffin. He has been, for the most part, fairly inconsistent throughout his early career so far. However, the 22-year old has lots of time ahead of him, which he can use to develop his jumper and muscle opponents down in the paint.
12. Jaylen Brown
The former California Golden Bear took a leadership role for the injury-filled Celtics last season, as he showed substantial improvement from his rookie season. He has an extremely high IQ of the game, and when his athleticism meets his knowledge, he’ll be a nightmare for other teams.
11. Brandon Ingram
Ingram hasn’t been quite the scoring machine that many thought he would be entering the league, but he is bound to improve alongside LeBron James. James makes his teammates better, and he’ll bring out the best in Ingram. The King has even said he thinks Ingram could be an All-Star as soon as this upcoming season.
10. Donovan Mitchell
“Spida” Mitchell stuck out as one of the most electrifying players last season… as a rookie. Mitchell led the Jazz–who weren’t expected to even come close to playoff contention–to the playoffs, where they continued to make noise, taking down the OKC Thunder trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony in the first round. Mitchell will for sure be an All-Star in upcoming seasons.
9. Nikola Jokic
“The Joker” one of the most talented bigs in the NBA. He’s got unbelievable footwork, and can consistently score from mid-range and even from three. Unique from many other bigs in the league, Jokic has great court-vision as well. He’s one of the rare big men who can almost do it all. However, the Nuggets’ center isn’t very muscular, and his speed can be a problem.
8. Lonzo Ball
Ball receives lots of hate because of his loud-mouth father and crooked jump shot, but the young LA point guard is extremely underrated. Ball is one of the best passers in the NBA, as he runs a fast-paced offense. His defense is also overlooked, as Ball is able to lockdown some of the league’s biggest playmakers. His jump shot will come as he develops, but there really isn’t any rush considering the amount of scorers the Lakers have (Ingram, Kuzma, James, Caldwell-Pope).
7. Jayson Tatum
Tatum showed his all-around game last year in his rookie season, especially when he was put to the test to help Boston as a leading-contributor. Tatum was huge in the Celtics postseason, as he was able to help bring them to the Eastern Conference Finals, where he didn’t back down matching up against LeBron. The former Duke Blue Devil has a very bright future.
6. Ben Simmons
Simmons’ physical stature is uncommon for a point guard, which is exactly why he’s rising up to be one of the best. The Australian has no trouble finding the open-man and can get to the basket with ease. The only concern is his infamous jump shot, which will surely improve in subsequent years.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
KAT has been an essential piece of the Timberwolves’ success. Scouts knew what he would bring to the table coming out of Kentucky, and he’s done just that for Minnesota. He’s got unstoppable moves inside the post and has been deadly from outside the arc as well. Towns has had an upward trajectory and it there are no signs of that stopping anytime soon.
4. Devin Booker
The former Kentucky sixth-man has had an unbelievable beginning to his NBA career. Booker has been a leader on the Phoenix Suns and has been a relentless scorer, best known for his 70-point performance against the Celtics at just 20 years old. Booker and the Suns have struggled in recent seasons, but the young-star vows that last season was the last year he will ever not make the playoffs. His determined mentality and leadership–comparable to Kobe Bryant’s– is why Book is number four on this list.
3. Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last year which ended his season, as there are rumors that he may even miss all of next season as well. What the 7′ Latvian showed prior to his injury, however, was that he was fully capable of taking the role of leading the torn-apart Knicks. The team actually competed for a little while last season which gave hope for the future. The Unicorn is a giant who can torcher teams from downtown and dominate at the post. Sources close to him have said that he’ll come back a significantly stronger player. If Porzingis can return to (and stay in) a healthy-state, then he will for sure be one of the top superstars in the NBA.
2. Joel Embiid
Embiid is the embodiment of the modern day center in the NBA. Embiid, who led the Sixers to a playoff birth last season, can be a three-point option as if he’s a shooting guard and can use all seven feet of himself to muscle people down low. He’s comparable to DeMarcus Cousins, just with more control over his temper. Embiid, nicknamed “The Process,” was selected as a starter in last years All-Star game because of his dominance on the court. If he stays healthy, there’s no doubt that Embiid can be the best center in the league, maybe sooner than later.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
It’s hard to believe that Antetokounmpo is so young with all that he’s already done in the league. The Greek Freak is the full package. He’s fast like a point guard, and he shoots over defenders with ease because